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QStudent #3: Quality Improvement

The definition of quality improvement (QI) is, “Using data to monitor the outcomes of care processes and using improvement methods to design and test changes to continuously improve the quality and safety of health care systems” (QSEN, 2003).

These days, both healthcare institutions and the government are focusing on QI in healthcare. Many hospitals have quality improvement teams or committees. These teams/committees develop quality improvement projects to better the care patients receive while in the inpatient setting. Some seemingly small, but very important, protocols have been implemented into hospitals to increase QI. One example is “No Pass Zones”– A healthcare provider, or any hospital employee, is not to walk pass a call light or a patient in need without addressing the problem or situation. Another includes purposeful hourly rounding in which healthcare providers are to check on their patients every hour and address the 4 P’s: potty, possessions, pain, and position. One more example includes the addition of patient information dry erase boards into patient rooms. These boards have information about their healthcare team, the date, room number and telephone number, and often include a section for a patient, family members, or a healthcare provider to write down questions and answers as a way to communicate. This is only a small sample of QI measures that have been implemented into hospitals.

All of the measures listed above can affect a hospital’s HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) scores. The HCAHPS survey is sent to patients who have recently been hospitalized following their inpatient stay. The survey consists of a variety of questions pertaining to patient satisfaction.

An example question:

“During this hospital stay, how often was the area around your room quiet at night?”

  • Never

  • Sometimes

  • Usually

  • Always

Unless a patient answers “Always”, the hospital is not reimbursed for the care they provided. This drives healthcare providers to do their jobs effectively, safely, and professionally. Many institutions display their HCAHPS scores in employee break rooms, and other employee lounges, to make employees aware of the overall patient satisfaction. It also is a good way to determined what needs fixed to improve satisfaction and scores.

The question is: What QI projects have you seen, heard about, or learned about, and what are the expected or desired outcomes?

Click here for an example of an HCAHPS survey


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